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`Food bank for data’ rolled out across UK ahead of Christmas to help tackle data poverty

3rd December 2021
Posted by Johnny Jenkins

Virgin Media O2, together with Good Things Foundation, is rolling out the first ever National Databank across the UK – as O2 pledges even more free mobile data to help tackle data poverty this Christmas. The launch is in response to the data crisis in the UK, with 1.5 million homes currently without internet access.*

Following the success of a three-month National Databank pilot scheme and building on the 7.5 million GB of O2 mobile data already donated, Virgin Media O2 has also announced that it will gift 10GB of O2 data to the National Databank for every plan purchased between 1 November and 31 January.

As founding member of the National Databank, Virgin Media O2 now expects to triple its original data donation after its Christmas data pledge. This supercharges its donation commitment and takes the number of people it aims to help to over 255,000 nationwide.

The National Databank is also a central part of O2’s Christmas advertising campaign – We’re better, connected – which focuses on the data pledge, promising to help connect disconnected families all around the country with the mobile data that can help them fulfil their potential and live life to the fullest.

The National Databank was created by Virgin Media O2, working closely with Good Things Foundation and other digital inclusion experts including Community Organisers, Operation Wi-Fi, Hubbub and Nominet, and has been gifted to Good Things Foundation to run through its network of 5,000 community groups. The National Databank provides a central hub where community groups can access free ‘data voucher codes’ and SIM cards for anyone who needs them. Those accessing free data will be offered additional support as well – including digital skills training and signposting to other essential services. Virgin Media O2 has also donated £500,000 to Good Things Foundation to cover the operational costs of running the Databank.

The launch of the National Databank follows a series of moves from Virgin Media O2 to support vulnerable customers during the COVID-19 pandemic – from free mobile data, devices and TV channels, to permanently zero-rating NHS and education websites. Last autumn – in the height of the second wave – Virgin Media launched its Essential Broadband service for customers who are struggling financially and receiving Universal Credit. The company’s Help for Home Learners initiative and O2’s Community Calling programme have respectively provided data and devices to those in need at a crucial time.

Johnny spoke to Helen Milner OBE, Group Chief Executive at Good Things Foundation: